A recent issue of the American tabloid The National Enquirer had the spectacular headline that Barack Obama is a gay man.
The Enquirer was no doubt reacting to Obama’s announcement declaring June to be Homo Month.
The document officially calls it Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Pride Month. I don’t know about you, but I can barely believe it. During the Bush years, the best we could ever expect would be if he left us alone. An American president proclaiming Queer Month is nothing short of miraculous.
Does it mean that Americans are required to be nice to a homo this month? Even if they live in rural Tennessee?
Are they required to pay their gay neighbour’s rent? Take a lesbian to lunch?
The American queer media has criticized the announcement, saying it doesn’t go far enough, but perhaps the president is taking it one step at a time.
Perhaps Barack is thinking of the long term. This year he’ll proclaim June to be Queer Month, next year he’ll strike down “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
This year there’ll be a Pride BBQ in the White House garden and in three years the president will sign a same-sex marriage bill.
This year, Barack and Michelle will hang a rainbow flag on the White House lawn, place pink triangles all over the Oval Office, Michelle will drape herself in lavender and Barack will be adorned in a pink feather boa, and in 2012 Hillary will come out.
Social justice takes time, especially after the drought of the Bush years. Still, let’s not sweep under the carpet how backward the US is on social justice issues.
It’s ironic that the president’s proclamation comes right on the heels of Proposition 8 being upheld in California, which snatches the right to marry right out from under the grasp of queer Californians.
There’s a lot of irony in America.
Obama, who against all odds became the first person of colour in the White House, stands up for queers in the first summer of his presidency, while at the same time America is falling apart at the seams.
Obama who declares homo month in a country in which Dr George Tiller of Kansas, one of the few doctors brave enough to perform legal abortions in America, was recently murdered in cold blood by anti-abortion terrorists while attending church.
Homo Month in a country in which gay and lesbian soldiers are living under the Clinton “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. They’re still routinely discharged just for being gay, even if they’ve spent five or 10 or 20 years in military service.
Perhaps Bill was just trying to come up with a good excuse for Hillary when he legislated the policy. “Don’t ask if my intern gave me a blow job under the desk in the Oval Office and I won’t tell.”
Homo Month in a country in which Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been accused of “reverse racism” because she pointed out that as a Latina woman she will bring more sensitivity to a diverse population than a straight white man would? (Of course she will.)
Let’s break down Obama’s official proclamation.
It begins with a brief recounting of Stonewall — a Gay Rights For Dummies. The proclamation goes on to call for equal rights for gays and lesbians. Equal rights! There has not been any other American president who has talked about equal rights for queers.
George W Bush did everything in his power to crush us, Clinton was wishy-washy, let’s not even talk about the first George Bush.
In the proclamation Obama acknowledges that our community has come a long way, yet we still have a long way to go, paving the way for future legislation in our favour.
My favourite sentence in the document is: “…here at home I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans.”
The full spectrum of equal rights. Well, that could mean pretty much everything. Right? Like spousal rights, adoption, serving in the military, hate crime legislation, same-sex marriage, big bags of money to every homo in America to compensate for systemic discrimination ever since the US became a nation. Or at least one free date with Angelina or Brad — depending on your orientation.
“These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected.”
Wow. Did I hear that right? The president of the United States understands that if one flaming fag or one diesel dyke or one transitioning individual or one bisexual person does not have her or his civil rights, then no one does?
A few years ago it was unthinkable that an African American president would be sitting in the White House. During the Bush years, it would have seemed fantastical to imagine the US celebrating Pride Month. And yet, according to the official White House website, it’s GLBT Pride Month in America.
Forty years ago a handful of New York queers fought back against police oppression, setting off the gay rights movement in the US, and now there’s a president honouring our community.
To any of the brave souls who stood outside the Stonewall Inn that fateful night in June 1969 who are still alive, I want to say thank you. Barack Obama would not be making this proclamation without you.